What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A breast lift can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.

During the procedure

Techniques used to remove breast skin and reshape breast tissue vary. The specific technique your plastic surgeon chooses will determine the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.

Your doctor might make incisions:

  • Around the areolae — the darker area surrounding the nipples
  • Extending downward from the areolae to the breast creases
  • Horizontally along the breast creases

Your doctor might place stitches deep within your breasts to reshape your breast tissue and, if necessary, reduce the size of your areolae. He or she will remove excess breast skin and shift the nipples to higher positions. Then your doctor will bring together the breast skin and close the incisions with stitches, surgical tape or skin adhesives.

The procedure typically takes two to three hours.

After the procedure

After a breast lift, your breasts will likely be covered with gauze and a surgical support bra. Small tubes might be placed at the incision sites in your breasts to drain any excess blood or fluid.

Your breasts will be swollen and bruised for about two weeks. You'll likely feel pain and soreness around the incisions, which will be red or pink for a few months. Numbness in your nipples, areolae and breast skin might last for about six weeks.

In the first few days after a breast lift, take pain medication as recommended by your doctor. Avoid straining, bending and lifting. Sleep on your back or your side to keep pressure off your breasts.

Avoid sexual activity for at least one to two weeks after the breast lift. Ask your doctor when it's OK to resume daily activities, such as washing your hair, showering or bathing.

Drainage tubes placed near your incisions are typically removed within a few days. When your doctor removes the tubes, he or she will also probably change or remove your bandages.

Talk to your doctor about when — or if — your stitches will be removed. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be removed in the doctor's office, often one to two weeks after the procedure.

Continue to wear the surgical support bra around the clock for three or four days. Then you'll wear a soft support bra for three or four weeks. Your doctor might suggest using silicone tape or gel on your incisions to promote healing.

While you're healing, keep your breasts out of the sun. Afterward, be careful to protect your incisions during sun exposure.

Jul. 19, 2012